Silent land

Annette Ruzicka

2019 - Ongoing

It started with the fires.

In the summer of 2019-2020 every morning I would jolt awake at 5am. The reminder that fires are burning all over my country would flood back into my consciousness. Bushfires had been ravaging Australia since winter and I found myself in a heightened state of anxiety by the loss of the Australian landscape as I once knew it.

I felt helpless and would pace the house like a caged tiger.

Faced with this I began experiencing what’s now known as eco-anxiety; a chronic fear of environmental doom.

I realised humans and the natural world are inextricably connected, I didn’t just love our land and its creatures - I was connected to it. What makes us human today is a result of thousands of years of evolution done so in symbiosis with the natural world, not despite it.

Then a global pandemic hit. We couldn’t go outside; experience nature, and for me, everything went dark. My depression started to rear its ugly head and panic attacks ensued.

During lockdown people were bursting to go outside, feel the sun, breathe the air. We need nature not just for survival but for a deeper connection; physically, emotionally and mentally.

What these crises tells us is that we are fragile. And we also need the natural world; to feel dirt under our feet, breeze on our face and vistas of desert, forest and ocean.

The fires in California were the worst in history and right now, the COVID-19 death toll continues to rise leaving us with a very uncertain future.

While this series is an expression of my eco-anxiety at Australia’s environmental crisis followed by the lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic; it’s also my search for hope. Without hope we only have despair.

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